I’m a “personal development” nerd. I love reading about goal-setting, time-management, etc. So, as you might guess, the New Year, with all of the resolution-making discussion, is practically a high holiday for me. Perhaps that’s why God needed to remind me this morning during my devotional time of my most important and constant resolution.
Jesus declared in his high priestly prayer (John 17) that eternal life is to know the one true God and his Son, Jesus Christ.
The word “know” means at least two things. First of all, it means that we “know about” God. It involves, necessarily, some content. We must believe that God is – that God really, truly, and ontologically is. We must embrace the idea that God exists outside of our own subjective desires and even needs.
Furthermore, we must know some information “about” God – who God is, his character, attributes, decrees, etc. This is not to suggest that our eternal destiny requires that we have a comprehensive understanding of the eternal and infinite God. We would all fail by that standard. However, I would suggest it does include seeking to know about God as God has revealed himself… as he really and truly is. (Of course, everything I just said regarding knowing about God the Father is also true of God the Son.)
The second part of knowing God (and his Son) includes, and even emphasizes, a personal and intimate relationship with God. It is because we first know “about” God that we are propelled to know, love, trust, and follow God. It is because we first know about God that we can begin to enjoy a real relationship him.
To be sure, knowing about God doesn’t guarantee this relationship, but I would say that it’s unlikely the relationship will develop without first knowing about God.* (Hebrews 11:6 reminds us that we must first believe that God exists before we can come to him.) As I said, this second understanding of knowledge is relational and must not be reduced to merely citing a few facts about God. Yet, as I mentioned, content “about” God is certainly assumed.
Now, what in the world does any of that have to do with my most important resolution for 2012? Check back tomorrow and I’ll answer that question.
Grace and Truth in 2012,
* For all of you astute theological scholars out there, I am only addressing one side of this issue. Yes, I do believe that no one will know God (relationally) without a prior work of God’s Spirit.